From Rus­sia with Love­less

Lost boy is the fo­cus of this quiet, un­pre­ten­tious and mov­ing tale

Regina Leader-Post - - YOU - CHRIS KNIGHT

“Love­less­ness,” says one of the char­ac­ters in Rus­sian di­rec­tor An­drey Zvyag­int­sev’s new film. “You can­not live in that state.”

It’s de­liv­ered one adult to an­other, but it’s a les­son not lost on 12-year-old Alyosha (Matvey Novikov). After the kid over­hears his par­ents ar­gu­ing over which one will have to take him after their di­vorce, he heads out to school the next morn­ing — and doesn’t come back.

Par­ents Zhenya and Boris aren’t quick to no­tice him miss­ing. Each is on a date that first night, so it’s al­ready more than 24 hours later when they re­al­ize he’s gone. Snap­ping into ac­tion, they hurl re­crim­i­na­tions at each other.

Love­less is fo­cused in its cri­tique of hu­man na­ture; Zhenya con­tin­ues to nurse a grudge over a painful de­liv­ery of her son (“He al­most tore me apart!”), while she and Boris com­pete to see who can be more cruel to the other in this time of cri­sis. A visit to Zhenya’s mother to see if the boy wound up at her house finds her sim­i­larly lack­ing in parental af­fec­tion.

Two hours is a lot of movie time to spend look­ing for a miss­ing kid, al­though we do learn much about the way such cases are han­dled in Rus­sia.

A no-non­sense cop tells Zhenya they sim­ply don’t have the re­sources to chase ru­n­aways, while a vol­un­teer group has clearly had a fright­en­ing amount of prac­tice at this type of thing. They in­ter­view neigh­bours, comb the woods, call the hos­pi­tals, search build­ings and put up posters. Never do we get a hint that any­thing is bring­ing them closer to a so­lu­tion.

Mean­while, the par­ents do all the right things but seem oddly un­moved by it all.

Not so the di­rec­tor, whose quiet, un­showy pho­tog­ra­phy hints at a kind of en­vi­ron­men­tal sad­ness at the cir­cum­stances. The cam­era may linger in a door­way or pause to gaze out a win­dow, where the win­ter is com­ing on hard. The boy may or may not be found, but the film al­ready seems to be telling us: Don’t get your hopes up. ck­night@post­media.com

When 12-year-old Alyosha, played by Matvey Novikov, dis­ap­pears, his di­vorc­ing par­ents seem un­moved in Love­less, a com­pelling tale from Rus­sia.

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